I don’t need to tell you that PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote applications are probably your number one tool for presentations but be aware that what you see on your computer screen is not necessarily what you will see on a video or projection screen. Here are some important techniques and tips to consider when building your presentations for your next meeting, seminar or special event. Let your attendees get the most out of your hard work.
I have worked on countless programs that have used PowerPoint and Keynote as a major focal point for their sales meetings, award show celebrations and other events and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen attendees struggle to see what they were invited there to see. Why loose your audience in the back of the room if you don’t have to? One or more of them quite possibly could be your next company superstar but they missed your presentation because they simply couldn’t see it and decided to play solitaire on their smart phone.
Lets add another layer to the necessity of reaching the attention of your attendees from the front row to the back row. With a phone or laptop, a wireless connection and a little social media at your attendee’s fingertips, they may be posting in real time what a bore your presentation is. Not good.
You can avoid much of this by following these guidelines when building your program for a projection screen in any venue or meeting space. You may have heard the phrase, “Presentation is everything.” Never take this phrase for granted.
*Lets start with font / point size.
Simply move 4 feet back from your monitor or laptop screen. Without straining or squinting your eyes, which is the smallest point size that is easiest or most comfortable to read? I’m going take a shot and say you chose a point size of 14 or 16. Keep your font size at 14 or higher and you will be on the money every time. If you can’t see your text content at this distance, neither can your audience or attendees viewing it on a projection screen regardless of screen size. We call this The 4 Foot Rule. It’s a good idea to have satellite plasma screens in exceptionally large venues but you really want to keep your guests focused on the action on your stage.
For many years I’ve had discussions with event planners in need of a solution for making very architecturally busy meeting spaces or pre-themed environments disappear and turning giant, daunting spaces into intimate environments with the use of lighting. Understanding the concept of negative space is the key and the same applies to your screen presentations. Direct your viewers eyes where you want them.
White backgrounds with black text is not recommended. The white space overpowers your text. You want your presentation to be dynamic. You want to hold the viewers attention. Use dark backgrounds with high contrast text, put borders around your photos and don’t clutter your slides. An image with a single line of text or a handful of bullet points is the most effective use of your slide real estate. It draws the viewers eyes to the exact content you want them to see without distractions.
I’m going to cut to the chase here and say there are lots of web sites that discuss color schemes and the use of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors but for now, lets focus on what works on a projection screen. Color theory and colorimetry may be a topic for another day here.
Take note, what you see here, the color saturation and contrast is not what you will see on a projection screen.
Some very important additional tips.
- Never use graphics that do not pertain to your message. The phrase “Less is more” in this respect is without a doubt, 100% true.
- Stick to one font set in your presentation. Sans Serif fonts are best for projection screens as Serif fonts are meant to be used with more text (Like a paragraph or book).
- Take a look at your favorite news program on TV and keep an eye out for how text is presented. Use it as a visual guideline. You will notice subtle movement such as swipes and fades, bulleted text and very minimal animation.
- Use or create custom key slide / key frame backgrounds or background images. Stay away from using the backgrounds included with the software. Everyone on EARTH has seen them already.
- Use the highest quality / resolution graphics and photos you can find. Don’t acquire your images from the internet unless you know how to find high resolution images. Graphics and text decorations online are generally low resolution. Understanding some copyright law on using web images is a good idea as well.
Your presentation is not a stand alone document. If your slides are well crafted, your PowerPoint or Keynote document must require YOU, your narrative to have meaning. It is a tool to emphasize your key points, to add a bit of visual depth and possibly an emotional connection with your viewer to initiate action. It is a tool that ties a visual flow to your words, not the contrary. If it is more than this you have to much content on your screen.
Put all of this together and you will have a successful presentation at your next event or meeting. Someone may even Tweet a nice comment about it back at the office.
Your questions and comments are welcome.